Sections from the human somatosensory cortex were observed with a light microscope. The neurons were classified into light and dark ones. The light neurons were slightly stained with thionin, luxol fast blue MBS and azocarmine G (80% of all neurons). The dark neurons were more or less shrunken, and stained intensely with these dyes (20% of all neurons). Double staining with luxol fast blue MBS and azocarmine G was especially useful to demonstrate the dark neurons, since it clearly stained even their fine processes. Neither light nor dark neurons were reactive to nick end labeling for detection of DNA fragmentation. Triple staining with Golgi's silver nitrate (or Gallyas's ammoniacal silver carbonate), luxol fast blue MBS and azocarmine G showed that the majority of the dark neurons were argyrophilic (argyrophilic dark neurons, 15% of all neurons), while some of them were not argyrophilic (non-argyrophilic dark neurons, 5% of all neurons). Triple staining also showed that the light neurons were only occasionally argyrophilic (argyrophilic light neurons, 5% of all neurons); usually, the light neurons were not argyrophilic (non-argyrophilic light neurons, 75% of all neurons). The results confirm that dark neurons usually represent certain populations of neurons in the human brain, and that they are basically identical to the argyrophilic neurons. The discussion suggests that the argyrophilic light and dark neurons are excited cells, the non-argyrophilic dark neurons are exhausted cells, and the non-argyrophilic light neurons are resting cells. Triple staining further demonstrated that some glial cells were darkened and stained with Golgi's silver nitrate or Gallyas's silver carbonate. Additional Golgi's silver block staining showed that the argyrophilic neurons stained by the conventional block staining method usually possessed a shrunken cell body, which was characteristic of the dark neurons.
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